You cannot pick up a magazine or log onto Facebook without reading about the ubiquitous “Mommy Wars.” Here is what the media would have us believe about the adversaries featured in these so-called “wars”:
Breastfeeding moms vs. moms who formula feed
Working moms vs. stay at home moms
Moms who co-sleep vs. those who don’t
Moms who let their babies cry it out vs. moms who don’t (perhaps the most controversial right now)
Here is what I believe truly lies at the heart of the Mommy Wars:
Moms who don’t think other people’s parenting choices are any of their business vs.moms who seem bent on convincing other parents that their way is the only way.
I do not think I am alone when I say, Enough with this shit.
Let me add a quick disclaimer before anyone pleads, “But what about the innocent children???” I am not talking about abuse, neglect, poor nutrition (no, feeding your children Dino Nuggets 5 times a week doesn’t count), or cruelty (and no, feeding your baby formula does NOT count as cruel.) We should all take a stand when real injustices are happening to children.
So what is at the root of this battle of the mommies? Are we responsible for it? Is the media? And why do some moms feel so determined to tout their parenting philosophies with fervent, dichotomizing religiosity?
Do dads feel this need to cut down and condemn other parents? Do they subject fellow dads to despotic diatribes against sleep training, co-sleeping, or formula feeding? Come to think of it, I was recently offered (well-intentioned?) advice (which I did not request) from two fathers on how to “handle” my baby, but you don’t see “Daddy Wars” making the headlines.
I truly believe I remain non-judgmental about the big parenting debates. I don’t care how you feed your baby. I don’t care if your kids attend public school, Montessori, Waldorf, or the School of Your Living Room. I don’t give a shit (pun intended) if you diaper your child with Elmo-plastered Pampers, use a cloth diapering service, or catch their pee in a little bowl.
|Judge away- we wear matching jammies sometimes|
But in spite of my efforts, I seem to succumb to catty judgments about trivial things. On a family trip recently, I stood at an outdoor concert, dancing with my baby near a group of moms, obviously friends, who were talking together while their children played. When my husband said he was ready to go, I said, “Oh good, I am ready to get away from the Moms Who Are Trying Too Hard to be Stylish.” He regarded me seriously. “Are you sure they aren’t saying the same thing about you?” I glanced at myself dubiously, taking in my $9 dollar Old Navy tank top, a skirt from my mother in law that may or may not have been intended as a swimsuit cover-up, and my Teva rip-off sport sandals. Not to mention the fact that I was currently sharing my six year old’s hair products. It was a nice sentiment, though, and his point was well made. I did not know these women, and perhaps this was their annual “get dressed up in trendy dresses and fancy jewelry and uncomfortable shoes and also have just gotten a very stylish haircut” weekend. Perhaps they were all reveling in the experience of feeling like a beautiful woman. Or maybe they really were bitches. None of my business.
I took my girls to the museum a few weeks ago and noticed a dad talking on his cell phone while his kid played. “Hmph, what an engaged parent he is.” I thought self-righteously. A few days later I saw another mom texting on her phone at the mall play area and had the same snooty reaction. Then I realized, I am usually all too eager to sit down and tune out on my Facebook app at the play area, but I happened to have chosen that particular moment to be present and engaged. And by “present” I mean that I was actively observing my children, not gleefully jogging after them in a game of tickle monster.
My point is this: are we even capable of never judging other parents? Is there a sliding scale of egregiousness when it comes to our judgments? Surely we all learned as children that leaving others out and making fun of them serves the purpose of elevating one’s own self-esteem. What we hadn’t yet learned was that it feels good to grown-ups, too.
Is it hypocritical of me to participate in my own version of the Mommy Wars, focused on convincing the judge-y zealots that they are wrong, haranguing them with my own unique vitriol until they concede the point? “Oh you’re right, Stephanie, to each their own!” they will graciously thank me. Perhaps that is no better, and it certainly seems unrealistic.
The old saying, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” has been resonating with me lately. Parenthood is hard. We make tough choices every day, some of which we may regret down the road, and others we stand by completely. But we are all doing the best we can. Every family, and every child within that family, is unique. Are any of us exempt from living in the Great Glass House of Parenthood? Throwing stones unquestionably damages the entire structure after a point. And if we are able to refrain from this cruel stone throwing, is it too much to expect for us not to flick a little pebble from time to time?
|Moms thrive when we support each other|